Don’t expect supply chain pressures to ease significantly until 2023. Industry leaders at the TPM22 and TPMTech Conference recently told attendees in Long Beach, home of the country’s largest port, citing structural issues in ocean transportation that are a long way from being solved. Between infrastructure failures, labor constraints, vessel delays, record demand, reduced capacity, and mounting costs, businesses are beset by supply chain disruption — and so are their customers.
CX has never been more challenging. And that’s precisely why it’s more important than ever for companies to rise to the occasion. At Pivot International, we’ve implemented eight best practices for enhancing CX to soften, mitigate, and often solve the impacts of disruption. As a global one-source leader in product design, development, manufacturing, and supply chain management, we aim to set the industry standard for elevated CX.
By elevating CX when times are most challenging, you’ll earn trust, strengthen loyalty, promote retention, and build your brand and reputation to carry you and your customer through to better days.
Eight Best Practices for Elevated CX
1. Lead With Appreciation
Any customer communication should begin with an affirmation of your appreciation for their business. And the more personalized this appreciation can be, the better. Using your customers’ first name in an email is a great start, as is thanking them for being a customer for X amount of time. But referring to specific purchases or projects you’ve collaborated on will carry more weight in conveying your appreciation.
2. Identify Alternative Solutions
With parts, components, and materials in short supply, many companies assume that if supply chain challenges can’t be solved via procurement, they can’t be solved, period. When procurement appears to be a dead-end, it’s time to innovate. At Pivot, we’ve successfully broken through 30-50% of sourcing roadblocks with innovative engineering hacks.
3. Be Forthright
Some supply chain solutions can’t be solved with any amount of effort and creativity. When you’re unable to identify an immediate solution for your customer, communicate this openly and matter-of-factly, informing them about the challenges you’re working to solve on their behalf.
4. Acknowledge and Empathize
When you’re unable to come through for your customer, openly acknowledge and sincerely empathize with the difficulty this poses. (Never focus on your challenges — it’s not about you; it’s about your customer.) Far from being “squishy,” empathy is a critical success driver for businesses of all kinds. In a now-famous Harvard Business Review article, companies ranked among the top ten in Global Empathy Index increased their value by more than twice as much as those in the bottom ten and generated 50% more earnings.
5. Emphasize Action
Empathy without action is empty. While it’s of utmost importance to acknowledge what you can’t do and how this affects your customer, it’s equally important to stay focused on what you can do — and are actively doing — to move the ball forward. Reaffirm your commitment to your customer by outlining concrete actions you’re taking to work toward satisfying their needs.
6. Manage Expectations
To the degree you’re able, let your customers know what to expect, and be as specific as possible. (For instance, after letting them know you’ve taken X action, let them know you expect this to lead to X result by X date.)
7. Update Regularly
Keep your customer in the loop (and your business top of mind) with regular contact and timely updates. (Use these updates to reaffirm your appreciation and commitment.)
8. Encourage Conversation
Don’t let customer communications be a one-way street. Encourage two-way conversation by inviting feedback and creating other opportunities for your customers to make their voices heard and needs known. The more you know about a customer’s situation, the better chance you’ll stand of preserving your relationship and reaching a profitable resolution.
Fortification for the Future
Supply chain challenges aren’t due to abate significantly any time soon, but even when the chips are down, you can still find ways to elevate CX. As you do, you’ll reap the reward of this winning ethos and help to fortify your company for the future.
If you’re looking to launch a new product, our teams at Pivot bring nearly a half-century of experience across fourteen industries, including medical, industrial, security and defense, sports and entertainment, construction solutions, and agriculture. With 320,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities across three continents — including three in the American Midwest — we are the go-to partner for NPD in challenging times. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you deliver a successful product to market, contact us today.